Our columnist tries out an e-scooter in Colchester Leave a comment


That’s how another newspaper summed up the electric scooters now being tried out on the streets of Colchester, along with Chelmsford, Basildon, Clacton and elsewhere.

That had all the hallmarks of something I should try, so egged on by friends and family, it was time to have a go. Why should only the younger folk have all the fun, they pointed out?

The e-scooter trials in Essex towns are being run by an American firm called Spin Incorporated. Founded in 2017, it came late to the e-bike party, but has since won backing from the Ford Motor Company and is now a worldwide operation.

The first step it wanted was for me to install the Spin app on my smartphone. The app asked was I over 18 and with a UK driving licence? Easy peasy, that one.

Next came a safety quiz, asking where I could legally ride an e-scooter? Not easy peasy at all, so I bluffed by saying on most roads and cycle paths but not on pavements. That turned out to be more or less correct.

Gazette:

Then it was off to get some free training on their S100 scooter, outside Colchester’s Firstsite art centre. Here’s where it got a bit wacky.

My trainer proved to be none other than Ollie Georgiou, once a chart-topping singer with Blazin’ Squad nearly 20 years ago.

Read more >> Free of charge e-scooter training sessions taking place in Colchester

We bantered a bit about his appearances on Top of the Pops back in the day.

Then after the pleasantries, it was down to business, measuring my head for a safety helmet and signing a waiver promising not to sue the Spin company if its e-scooters caused my untimely death or disfigurement.

I was now cleared for take off, though a surprise awaited on the launch pad. Fine machine though the S100 may be, its motor doesn’t kick in from a standing start. Foot power is needed to get up to 2-3 mph when the battery juice starts to flow. After that, it was all fairly straightforward.

Read more >> The rules on using electric scooters in Colchester explained

Barriers were there to stop novice riders mowing down any random art lovers bound for the Firstsite gallery.

No-one was injured during my ride and it proved a pleasant reminder of the times I nicked my sister’s scooter as a child – though now I could move at twice the speed with far less effort.

And as a going-home gift, Spin gave me the safety helmet with a smart looking tote bag to keep it in. A bribe, but a good bribe.

Gazette: Alan Hayman tries out an escooter

Colchester Council seems generally pleased with the trial so far, releasing figures showing that e-scooters offer many people a green alternative to private cars, and a safe outdoor option for those worried about Covid bugs on buses and trains.

If issues over carelessly dumped scooters, riding two up and illegally using the pavement can be sorted, rented e-scooters may well become a permanent part of the urban scene.

However, I have no plans to start using one regularly, and here’s why.

Riding a rented electric scooter currently costs £1 for five minutes, when my trusty bus pass will get me quickly into central Colchester and many other places for no pounds and no pence.

So choosing which way to travel is frankly a no-brainer for those of us of mature years. But for others who want to avoid bus fares and parking charges, renting an e-scooter may be worthwhile.

Well, it’s quicker than relying on Shanks’ pony.





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